news and live tips

Connecting to Idaho’s Medical-Health Neighborhood

Ever heard of a medical-health neighborhood? Have you ever needed services provided by the medical-health neighborhood? Even if you answered no, chances are you’ve used the services of the medical-health neighborhood without really knowing it.

According to the Patient-Centered Primary Care Collaborative, the medical-health neighborhood is defined as “A clinical-community partnership that includes the medical and social supports necessary to enhance health, with the PCMH serving as the patient’s primary “hub” and coordinator of healthcare delivery.” It includes specialists, hospitals, long-term care providers, community centers, faith-based organizations, schools, employers, and public health agencies. The medical-health neighborhood is based on relationships and the coordination of health care and information within the patient’s community.

In Idaho, there are several organizations you can turn to that both provide information and connect you to the hundreds of community and social service organizations and direct healthcare providers across the state. One of these is phone-based and one is a website; both help you navigate the hundreds of resources available to you:

Live Better Idaho

Live Better Idaho is an organization whose mission is to connect people to services to help them live better lives. It’s a website that’s a collaboration among multiple groups including government agencies, non-profits, faith-based organizations, and other community services working throughout the state to bring available services to Idahoans.

According to Greg Kunz, Deputy Administrator of Live Better Idaho, the organization set out to create a website that would be easy to use. With that in mind, it’s designed to be user-friendly – so that people can find the services they need within three clicks…even if they aren’t sure what they’re looking for. Live Better Idaho is free to users.

Click here for more information about Live Better Idaho.

2-1-1 Idaho Care Line

The Idaho Care Line is a program of the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare. It’s a free, statewide information and referral service. It uses a comprehensive database of programs that offers free or low-cost health and human services. By dialing 2-1-1 from anywhere in the state, you’ll be connected to a live information specialist who can refer you to health and human services available right in your own medical-health neighborhood.

For more information about Idaho’s Care Line, dial 2-1-1 or click here to visit their website.

Click here to read more articles about PCMH transformation.

Dementia Caregivers – A New Training Curriculum

Back in September, on World Alzheimer’s Day, we addressed some general knowledge about Alzheimer’s and related dementias. We also talked about the number of people in Idaho suffering from the disease, the outlook, and some of the things being done about it.

Today 24,000 people in Idaho aged 65 and older have Alzheimer’s; in just eight years, that number is expected to climb to 33,000. It’s the sixth leading cause of death in Idaho. The Medicaid costs of caring for Alzheimer’s and dementia patients in Idaho in 2015 was $125 million; that number is expected to increase by 60% to $200 million by 2025.

Recently, the Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA), which supports the training of health professionals in the United States, came out with some new training modules that focus on Alzheimer’s and related dementias. These are in addition to their basic dementia training curriculum and specifically address caregivers of People Living with Dementia (PLwD). According to their website, currently more than five million Americans live with Alzheimer’s disease. And ultimately, one out of every three Americans will die from Alzheimer’s disease or another dementia.

The 11 supplemental training modules are designed to help providers understand the needs of caregivers of PLwD (four modules) and to directly assist family and other caregivers take care of themselves and cope with the challenges of caring for PLwD (seven modules).

Modules for Providers:

Module 1: Providers and Caregivers as Allies

Module 2: The Provider’s Role in Shared Decision-Making with Caregivers, Families, and Persons Living with Dementia

Module 3: How Clinicians Can Interact Effectively with Caregivers

Module 4: Taking Care of Those Caring for Persons Living with Dementia


Modules for Caregivers:

Module 1: Caregiving for Persons Living with Dementia (Faculty Guide)

Module 2: The Caregiver Role in Shared Decision-Making with Persons Living with Dementia (Faculty Guide)

Module 2a: Assisted Living Facility Considerations (Faculty Guide)

Module 2b: What to Consider When Choosing a Nursing Home (Faculty Guide)

Module 3: Working with the Healthcare Team (Faculty Guide)

Module 4: Caregiver Self-Care (Faculty Guide)

Module 5: Addressing Behaviors in Dementia (Faculty Guide)


To access the learning modules, visit the HRSA website at 

To read more General Health articles, click here.

ParkRx and the Eco-Therapy Movement

You’ve probably heard of psychotherapy, equine therapy, and group therapy, but what about ecotherapy? Ecotherapy is a nationwide trend that’s working to add one more tool to the array healthcare providers use to integrate care across the medical health neighborhood. The philosophy behind the trend is that prescribing specific interactions with nature like walking and exploring local parks will benefit patients with chronic conditions such as depression, diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, and ADHD. It’s gaining acceptance in mainstream medicine and carrying more weight with patients when prescribed by a doctor.

Read More

Become a Community Health Worker in Idaho

Did you know that there are over 50 job titles for a Community Health Worker (CHW)? From Promotora de Salud, to Case Work Aide, to Community Care Coordinator, there is no “one size fits all” job title. But whatever the title, the roles a CHW plays are many and they touch the patient’s entire range of healthcare needs: from medication adherence to patient advocacy, diabetes management to oral health.

These roles hold true for CHW’s trained here in Idaho. Since the beginning of the State Healthcare Innovation Plan (SHIP), CHW courses held through Idaho State University have trained nearly 50 CHWs throughout the state. These CHWs come from a variety of organizations from large hospital systems (St. Alphonsus), Indian Health Clinics (Nimiipuu Health), and free medical clinics (Genesis Community Health), to community-based agencies like the Community Council of Idaho, the Agency for New Americans, and the Idaho Hunger Relief Task Force.

A CHW’s Scope of Work

CHWs have a complementary scope of work to clinics that varies among organizations; it can consist of a variety of functions including but not limited to: coordinating care for vulnerable populations, enrolling people into health insurance plans, and providing informal counseling and health screenings. The graphic below shows the range of CHWs’ roles as they relate to the model of the continuum of care (as outlined by the CDC CHW eLearning modules).

Social and behavioral factors influence the health status of all patient populations and can create health inequalities across regions and states. CHWs contribute to efforts to eliminate persistent health inequities that exist throughout Idaho. Over the past nine months SHIP-trained CHWs have served 2,144 unique patients, provided 277 outreach and educational events, and had contact with almost 6,000 patients throughout Idaho.

Whatever the roles, the goals of CHWs everywhere remain the same: to promote, support, and advocate the work of their members who help all patients whether children, adults, or entire families gain, use, and retain quality health care and social and community services.

Idaho needs more Community Health Workers. If you’re interested in becoming a CHW or would like more information about their roles, please contact Madeline Russell at the Bureau of Rural Health and Primary Care at or 208-334-5594.




Idaho’s 2018 State of the State Address – Healthcare Recap

Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter gave his final State of the State and Budget Address on Monday, January 8, 2018. Below is a recap of the healthcare portion of his address which focused in large part on affordability and accessibility:

The governor opened his healthcare remarks by declaring that Idaho’s healthcare sector has led the state’s employment growth during his 12 years in office, adding more than 26,300 jobs since 2007. Healthcare accounted for 46 percent of the state’s overall job growth and 13 percent of total employment. He said that this raises two public policy debates for the coming decades: how do we make healthcare more accessible and affordable, and how do we ensure employers have enough skilled workers to meet Idaho’s needs, especially in healthcare and other STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) fields.

The governor also talked about the need for predictability in planning. But, he said, “When it comes to healthcare, the federal government seems to be going the extra mile to ensure that Idaho and other states have no certainty at all about what the future holds.” After many proposals for making healthcare in Idaho more accessible and coverage more affordable, the governor said he was making one last try.

The Idaho Health Care Plan

The governor will be putting forth for the legislature’s consideration, the Idaho Health Care Plan – a proposal that he said, “Would stabilize Idaho’s healthcare insurance market and give more working Idaho families the ability to purchase affordable coverage.” The plan enables people with the more costly and complex medical conditions to move their coverage to Medicaid. This will allow insurance companies to reduce premium rates for most people who remain in the individual marketplace. The governor was quick to point out that this plan is not an expansion of Medicaid. Rather, it’s a way to provide Idaho’s working families who have modest incomes a more affordable way to get the coverage they need. The plan calls for $17.4 million from the General Fund and another $11.4 million from the Millennium Fund.

Seeing affordability and accessibility as among the central public policy challenges of our time, the governor also addressed Idaho’s last-in-the-nation ranking in the number of primary care physicians per capita, especially in the rural parts of our state. He addressed the opening of Idaho’s first medical school – the Idaho College of Osteopathic Medicine (ICOM). The school, which is working with Idaho State University and other stakeholders, is committed to bringing more physician-residency opportunities to Idaho. His budget also contains a request for funding for 11 new residencies at Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center in Idaho Falls and Bingham Memorial Hospital in Blackfoot. This is in addition to efforts since 2013 to fund medical school seats for Idaho students through the regional WWAMI program where there are currently 40 seats dedicated to Idaho students – twice as many as when the governor took office.

Behavioral Health

The governor thanked the legislature for their support of the creation of behavioral health crisis centers in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho Falls, Twin Falls, and Boise. His budget asks for $2.6 million to create additional crisis centers in Lewiston, Nampa-Caldwell, and Pocatello that will help alleviate the costly use of emergency rooms and jail cells to address behavioral health challenges.

The governor concluded the healthcare portion of his address by affirming that having healthcare professionals in a community is “one of the factors that can determine a community’s success in developing its local economy by attracting and growing businesses that provide good-paying jobs.”

A complete transcript of the governor’s 2018 State of the State and Budget Address can be found here.

Community Health Workers: A Crucial Collaboration

Community Health Workers (CHWs) are becoming a critical part of the national public healthcare scene. They support limited medical resources in rural and underserved communities. Known by more than 60 different titles, community health workers’ roles can include any number of tasks from community health advocacy and outreach to health system navigation and liaising between providers and clients, etc. They typically have a close understanding of the populations and communities they serve and contribute to disease prevention, increased use of primary care and health insurance coverage, helping to reduce costs of care, and reducing health disparities. Community health workers build individual self-sufficiency and health knowledge through community education, informal counseling, social support, and promoting access to services. A nurse in Idaho’s Statewide Healthcare Innovation Plan (SHIP) Region Two at St. Mary’s Hospital elaborated, “They…are doing a great job of getting into the communities served by St. Mary’s Hospital and Clearwater Valley Health Clinics, screening those patients and teaching healthy life styles.”

A Collaboration in Idaho

 In Idaho, a collaboration between SHIP and Idaho State University (ISU) is designed to increase the number of community health workers in the state to 125 over a three-year period. The scope of the project is to provide training to state residents interested in utilizing their knowledge of their communities to provide services to individuals and communities in rural and frontier areas around the state.

The community health worker training program is offered through ISU’s Institute of Emergency Management using a curriculum developed by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. Classes are offered each fall and spring semester. Through fall 2018, the classes will be offered at no cost to Idaho residents. Training classes include topics such as effective communication, care coordination, navigating health insurance, and health behavior change. It’s hoped that creating this foundation of community health workers and the services they offer will work to sustain their programs once the SHIP grant ends.

The community health worker initiative, along with Community Health Emergency Medical Services (CHEMS), and telehealth services are referred to as the “virtual Patient-Centered Medical Home (vPCMH).” Together, the initiatives contribute to the delivery of care, reduced caseloads for primary care practitioners (PCPs), freed time for PCPs to concentrate on more complex patients, and improved quality of life in rural and frontier communities.

For more information about the CHW program in Idaho, and questions about how to get involved contact

To read more about virtual PCMH click here.

National Influenza Vaccination Week

National Influenza Vaccination Week: December 3-9, 2017

National Influenza Vaccination Week (NIVW) is a national awareness week to remind everyone six months and older that it’s not too late to get a flu vaccine. NIVW is a national observance established in 2005 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to highlight the importance of continuing influenza vaccination after the holiday season and beyond.

Read More

November – National Diabetes Awareness Month

This is a reprint of a November 9th article in Headline News which is a publication of the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare.

Diabetes is a huge health problem for so many here in Idaho: Nearly 600,000 Idaho adults have prediabetes and are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  The American Diabetes Association reports that around 8 million Americans have diabetes and many don’t know it. November is Diabetes Awareness Month, so it’s a good time to learn what you can do to prevent the disease or get help managing it.

Read More

A New Take on Payment Reform – Idaho Medicaid’s Regional Care Organizations

Idaho’s Division of Medicaid has been hard at work on a plan for payment reform for Idaho Medicaid. The plan involves bringing together primary care providers, hospitals, specialists, and other providers to improve care for patients. The new endeavor builds on Medicaid’s existing Healthy Connections program, supports national reform efforts, and builds on Idaho’s successful medical home program. The new plan is called “Healthy Connections Value Care.” An initial rollout of the plan is scheduled for the summer of 2018 in the Treasure Valley.

Read More
Page 2 of 41234